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Keywords:

  • Bipolar disorder;
  • Functioning;
  • Neurocognition

SUMMARY

Bipolar disorder is a severe mental illness that affects nearly 4.4% of the general population when bipolar spectrum disorders are taken into account. Neurocognitive impairment is thought to be a core deficit of this illness since it is present during euthymia. In fact, 40–60% of euthymic patients present with neurocognitive disturbances. Not only the clinical factors but also disturbances in neurocognition can influence the functional outcome of BD patients. Hence, further research is needed in order to clarify the relationship between these variables. Despite the growing body of evidence that has emerged during the last decade, no unique neurocognitive profile has been proposed yet for either BD subtype. The majority of the studies recluted heterogeneous samples (including both bipolar I and II) or focused on BD-I patients only. The aim of this review is to give an overall picture of the main neurocognitive disturbances found in the bipolar spectrum and particularly in BD-II, where the findings are more ambiguous. An extensive review of all the literature has been done regarding this subtype (from 1980 until July 2009). Data available until now suggest that deficits are present across the bipolar spectrum (BD-I and BD-II), but they seem slightly more severe in BD-I. The extent to which either subtype share—or not—some similarities is still unknown. More studies are required but it would also be interesting to reach a consensus in the neuropsychological assessment of BD to facilitate comparisons between the different studies.